This Just In: Benu Briolette Secret Garden

 

photo of the Benu Briolette cappedThe Benu Briolette arrived at the end of May, so calling this a This Just In post is a bit of a stretch. My two Benu Scepter fountain pens arrived after the Briolette, and I’ve already given my first impressions of those pens.

Since the Briolette is still working on its first ink cartridge, albeit a long international cartridge, I’m still calling this a This Just In post.

The fact that it’s been over four months on the first cartridge says something about my view of the Briolette. When I look at the pen or write with the pen, there’s a lot to like. I like the green & black design, and much to my surprise, the sparkles don’t ruin it for me. The extra-fine steel nib is an excellent writer. There’s a lot I like, and nothing that sticks out as a negative, yet the pen doesn’t click with me. So, the review timeline has dragged out, and I’ve already decided that the Briolette needs a new home. But let’s back up a bit.

The Briolette was the second Benu fountain pen that I purchased, the first being the Minima. There have been more since. I ordered the Briolette because the Minima was too small for me and couldn’t be lengthened by posting the cap. So, I moved up a size. The Briolette arrived in what I now recognize as standard Benu packaging. Classy, but less flashy than the pens. Gold lettering on a heavy cardboard box. The pen is in a cardboard sleeve on a bed of shredded paper. A long international cartridge is included, although there was no converter. Some websites, such as Goulet Pens, say a converter is included. The Benu website itself offers a converter as a $5 upsell. JetPens, which is where I purchased mine, does say no converter is included. So be sure to check carefully if a converter matters to you.

The Briolette is a many-faceted pen, so it doesn’t roll easily, despite not having a clip. It takes significant effort to get it to roll at all. The pen does not post and is on the smaller end of the scale at 5.4″ (137.4mm) long when capped, and a body that’s 5″ long (126.7mm) from nib tip to back-end.

I do find the Briolette comfortable to write with, for the most part. Its size is at the boundary of being too small in girth for my comfort. My hand did get tired and a little sore during my longest writing session using the pen, which was a little over an hour. It’s a light fountain pen, with no apparent metal. So the fatigue wasn’t due to the weight. Personally, I’d prefer a little more weight. The gripping section is thinnest at the point where I grip the pen. Although, at 9.4 mm, it’s not outrageously thin. The section does have a drastic taper to it so that a higher grip will provide more girth, 11.3mm just below the threads. The threads are smooth and seemed comfortable when I gripped them, although that’s too far from the nib for my taste.

photo of the Benu Briolette Secret GardenI picked the Secret Garden design since I’m partial to green. Green is the base color, although there significant areas of black. And of course, there are also silver sparkles. I’m not a fan of the cap band. It’s wide and black, with the Benu name molded onto it. It’s not exactly a band; instead, it’s a separate piece that attaches to the main cap. At least this is the appearance it gives. The threads are molded into this piece. I don’t hate it, but it does break up the look of the pen. At least the Secret Garden has some black in it, so it isn’t totally out of place. The colors, and glitter, are not uniform, giving the impression that each pen could be slightly different.

The lack of metal also means eyedropper filling should be possible, although I did not try it.

The extra-fine nib performed well out of the box. It’s a #5 extra-fine steel nib made by JoWo, in a nib unit assembled by Schmidt. Nib sourcing info is from the Benu website, so as always, it can change anytime. A while back, they mentioned nibs came from both Bock & JoWo for assembly by Schmidt.

The nib performed well out of the box. It was smooth, and I didn’t have any problems with skipping or hard starts. The nib stayed ready to write, even after being capped for over a week. I used the included long international cartridge that Benu had in the box. I like a firm nib, and this fits the bill. I’m currently going through a phase where I’m enjoying some variety in my nibs, so it was unexciting while the nib performed well. Excitement for nibs in sub-$100 fountain pens can often mean bad things, so boring could be considered a positive.

size comparison

L->R Kaweco Sport, Benu Briolette, Lamy Safari

uncapped size comparison

L->R Kaweco Sport, Benu Briolette, Lamy Safari, Lany Safari (posted)

Wrapping Up.

The Benu Briolette performs well and appears solidly built. It’s a $75 fountain pen, so there’s a lot of competition from pens that write just as well, with some costing less. They do have eye-catching materials and designs. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so whether or not you like the look will be personal. If you like the look, then you should enjoy using the pen. While $75 might be a little much as a starter fountain pen, the bright designs could make it a fun fountain pen for a new user.

But it’s not for me. In past days I may have kept the Benu Briolette Secret Garden in my pen case to pull it out and use it every now and then. But these days, I’m trying to be cutthroat in my pen choices, so this one is going up for sale.

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